Dear followers …

May 26, 2018

I am delighted that you think enough of my posts to follow what I post on this blog.

I’m hoping we can agree that as you have chosen to entrust me with the small amount of personal information that enables you to receive notification about new posts here that this is sufficient for me to be in compliance with the new GDPR legislation.

If you disagree, you have only to unfollow.

Right – boring business out of the way. Here’s a picture I took at West Bay recently.

Much more fun 🙂                                                                                                                                 100_4802

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A different kind of urban

July 7, 2018

It occurs to me that I may never have put the (lengthy) poem ‘A different kind of urban’ on my blog here. You may remember it formed the lyrics for the choral piece of the same name, for which Liz Lane wrote the music, which was commissioned from us by the Open University Choir to celebrate Milton Keynes @ 50 (there having been planning of the town going on in 1967, if no actual building). So here it is.

A different kind of urban

1: What do we celebrate?

We celebrate a different kind of urban,
something half a century old now, yet still brand new;
which embraces its past and its deeper past,
always changing, always growing –
still in a state of flux and roil, as it has always been.
Still excited, still exciting; fresh and hopeful for the future.

Everything begins with imagination …

2: Up in the air

Imagine: you are a bird flying home
from the south, as the day begins to go
and there beneath you, the whole of the town
lies like a complicated plaid below.

Behind the town, the remnants of the day
clamour a fanfare of glorious colour –
orange, red, purple – in the western sky.
Ephemeral. A burst of energy.

You think the show is over now, as twilight
deepens – ah, but wait! The orange streetlights
of our town begin to echo nature,
challenging the glory of the sunset.

First, the margins of the main roads come alight,
then the town’s estates begin to twinkle.
So many! As the twilight deepens on
they come, and on, like an ostinato
starting with a single voice, which grows
until the whole choir joins in song.

*

Through the pattern of lit streets, other lights are threading now;
sinuous as prayers floating on a holy river.

The white lights flow towards us and the red lights flow away.
And for a magic moment we cannot process what we see,

until we, too, start for home, when it at once comes clear
what these streams are. They do not float on any holy river;
they grind and growl and rumble upon asphalt roads,
for they are simply cars, cars, cars, and yet more cars –

and you and we and they are going home.

3: Down on the ground

Our history is woven through the earth we stand on
enriching our lives and the lives which came before.
Beneath our feet lie its warp and weft, a pattern
of primeval ley lines, alignments of constellations
and drovers’ roads, channeling ancient powers.

Canals, those engineering marvels, cut through
the land remorselessly. Beside them run the railways
triumphs of shaped steel, superceding them,
and superceded in their turn by tarmacked roads.

We live at a crossroads of Albion –
everything meets here: road, rail and water,
travelling north and south, east and west.
We are pinned in our place by the arrow
of Watling Street, the London Road, the A5,
thrumming to the spinning of a million wheels.

*

Up it, roaring mad, Boudicca came.

Where else would a grieving Edward stay
but here with us, the night he brought the
body of his dear Queen Eleanor
to London. Her crosses bear witness.

Crookback Dick kidnapped his nephews here
when he through trickery acquired the crown
he could not keep long, at last in his turn
hast’ning up Watling Street to Bosworth Field.

From all points of the compass dons and
crossworders came to crack Nazi codes
in World War Two. (Ten thousand people
working there – and no-one ever knew.)

Be assured, citizens of this new place,
we are no backwater of history here.

4: In the heart

This is the last and greatest of the new towns.
Architects, those techno-mages, drew up their plans
the very year of the summer of love,
when there were still loon pants, and long hair,
and money and vision. They made the town
out of straight lines and circles and low rise homes,
gave it good green lungs to help us breathe;
trees to scrub the air clean; open space,
where we may feel the grass beneath our feet,
As the town rose up out of the mud,
Baby Boomers arrived here in droves.
A unique generation of optimistic children,
rosy with free education and the welfare state,
we said, “let’s put the show on right here!” And we did.

In the middle of nowhere, we put on the shows,
the displays, the gigs and the festivals.
And we still do.

*

Those funky architects of ’67 knew
there is a little druid in us all
(it never truly leaves the human soul)
so built a boulevard to celebrate
the sunrise at midsummer.

So we whose town this is,
we techno-pagans
of every faith, or none,
know that there
at the city centre Belvedere,
as an affirmation
the sun will rise
as a ball of fire,
on the longest day of the year.

And again in November
we gather there together,
to mark the return of winter
on Guy Fawkes Night with fire.

As the fireworks burst above us
we stand silently in wonder,
shoulder to shoulder
in the dark.
At those times we realise
the town’s soul is older
even than the Druids
and not new at all.

5: An ending, but not the end

In this new place to live
we look for a new way to live
and cherish our diversity.

The deep past of our town,
and its continuing modernity
inform our lives from day to day.

What will our town’s next great story be?

Judi Moore © 2017

Review of ‘Little Mouse’ in ‘Frost’ magazine

June 11, 2018

Some of you may have noticed that the wee rodent won a prize recently. It is the 2018 Words for the Wounded Georgina Hawtrey-Woore Award for Independent Authors Fiction Winner.

Now a splendid review of it has appeared in Frost magazine here: www.frostmagazine.com/2018/06/wforw-georgina-hawtrey-woore-award-for-independent-authors-fiction-winner/

Here is the actual review, by Margaret Graham:

Mouse“Little Mouse is what any fiction judging team longs for, a book which is different, and it is one that this team felt was supreme. Little Mouse is succinctly written, structured perfectly, the point of view intact, the characterisation of all the characters spot on, even to the ‘voice’ of the almost four year old, Theo. Within a page it becomes unputdownable, and sustains the attention, leading the reader to the ultimate question: ‘What would I do?’

Judi Moore captures exactly, or so one imagines, the sense of peril felt by this Jewish family in Nazis Germany. She understands the historical perspective, and steadily peels back the layers to reveal the true nature of the friend, but can he really be as they suspect?

Moore’s understated style is multi-layered and subtle as we follow the passage of Theo’s young life as he is forced to burst into an early maturity. Decisions must be made, but what will be the cost to him?

Does this sound tantalising? Well it should. We were all left feeling thoughtful, stretched, enlightened, and moved. Such a novel, such writing and still that question: what would we do?”

 

 

The Georgina Hawtrey-Woore Award

June 7, 2018

Delighted finally to be able to announce that my novella, Little Mouse, has won the above this year. Words for the Wounded run a competition for long fiction and non-fiction. I entered Little Mouse in the fiction for adults category. “We are thrilled to let you know that Little Mouse is the winner of our Fiction category. It is a fabulous book, and we were unanimous in awarding you First Place. Congratulations from us all.”

I’ve known about this for many weeks, but have been sworn to secrecy – so, of course, I had to forget all about it or explode. But my subconscious didn’t forget. Yesterday was The Day of Announcement and a light bulb came on somewhere in my hindbrain. A little voice said, ‘time to blow your own trumpet.’ So here we are: toot, toot, tootle tootle, toot.

“After Kristallnacht in 1938 Doktor Theodore Goldstein, his wife Lisl, and their small son Theo, flee from Berlin, across the North Sea to Edinburgh. There, for more than ten years, they build a new life – a good life. But then a friend from the old days arrives, and they find themselves once again facing ruin and terror.”

‘Dropping Out: a tree change novel-in-stories’, Danielle de Valera

May 27, 2018

 

**originally prepared for Big Al & Pals indie review site: received a free copy**

Genre: linked short stories     Dropping Out: a tree change novel-in-stories by [de Valera, Danielle]

Description: these stories tell episodes in the lives of a number of people who moved to the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia as a result of the Aquarius Festival held in Nimbin in 1973. De Valera moved to the area in 1977. She writes about what brought these people to Murwillumbah, why they stayed, why they left, why they came back again. She draws beautiful pictures of the beauty and the hardships of life in this remote area at a time when almost all its traditional means of making a living were dead or dying. The stories cover 35 years.

And then there is the final story. More of that one anon.

Author: Danielle de Valera has had a chequered career, raising her family whilst working variously as a botanist, an editor, a cataloguer for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries Library and the John Oxley Library, and on the main floor of Arnott’s biscuit factory. She is best known for her short stories, which have appeared in diverse publications including Penthouse, Aurealis and Australian Women’s Weekly. Some of these linked stories were first published in that way. And you can buy several of them as standalones on Kindle.

Appraisal: I loved these stories. I loved the cover too. There is a sense of being out of time, in a rugged, basic Narnia which people found, loved, then stayed. They flee from it from time to time when life there gets too hard, but they return as well because it has a siren call. Life there has simple attractions. If you have an issue with the law, this is a place to hide. If you ARE the law, and need a change of pace, it’s good too. If you don’t want to pay taxes, or have people telling you what to do, or just need some peace, this is the place for you.

If you asked one of your parents to tell you stories of ‘the old days’, you’d hear a lot of different stories about the people your mum (or dad) was friends with. You’d probably think about what might’ve happened to those people in between stories. In the end you’d come to know the people in the stories really well. So well that you’d ask mum to tell you another story about Star or God or Baby in Murwillumbah. That’s what this book is like. When I finished it I kept thinking about the characters in it, wondering what they got up to in the interstices when de Valera wasn’t writing about them. I can’t remember the last book that had this effect on me: it will certainly repay rereading.

The stories are told with great pace and verve. They are gritty and poignant. The whole is leavened with wit and humour.

The final story is a problem. It is set 120 years in the future, so is out of sync with everything else. I found that hard to adjust to. It is about different characters (unsurprisingly) and isn’t about the descendants of the earlier stories either, as far as I can tell (although there is an Azure in the earlier stories and an Azuria in the last one, for reasons I couldn’t unpick). The society it sketches has gaps where more information would have helped (eg why were the artificial people created? why the wings?) but includes information dumps about pipe tobacco and bottles of stout that seemed to have little relevance to the plot. I felt deflated and puzzled by the story. It has cost the book a star, sadly.

(I should tell you I have no idea what a ‘tree change novel’ is.)

‘My life as a bench’ by Jaq Hazell

May 17, 2018

My Life as a Bench: WINNER OF THE RUBERY BOOK AWARD - BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 by [Hazell, Jaq]

**originally prepared for Big Al & Pals indie review site: received a free copy**

Genre: Young adult

Description: this is the back cover blurb “Ren Miller has died aged seventeen and yet her consciousness lives on, inhabiting her memorial bench by the River Thames in London. Ren longs to be reunited with her boyfriend Gabe, but soon discovers why he has failed to visit. Devastated, she must learn to break through and talk to the living so she can reveal the truth about her untimely end.”

Author: Jaq Hazell won the Rubery Award (for indie and self-published books) in 2017 for this book. She has been knocking on the awards door for some time now, and this award is well deserved. She is a British writer, now living in London, who has an MA in Creative Writing.

Appraisal: What a cracking title! It would be a pity indeed if such a funkily titled book should not prove to be fully funky throughout. So let me assure you at once that it is excellent.

Like so much YA fiction, it can be enjoyed by adult readers as well as teenagers (I’m 65 and I was blown away by it).

The tension is ratchetted up constantly by the reveal happening like a striptease. It is two thirds of the way into the book when the reader discovers why Ren is now a bench. By that point I was wild to know what had happened!

Grownups might imagine that the concerns of a teenager could prove facile: I did not find that the case at all. The high-octane heartache over trivialities which might cause the world to end (I remember those) is so believable, and the pace of the book so good, that you tumble along with the protagonists as they fall in and out of love on Facebook and over fried chicken lunches.

The author draws older characters beautifully too – and gives them plausible things to do which are nicely observed, sometimes poignant and sometimes very funny. Getting inside the head of a teenager isn’t easy (I can hear parents sighing from here), but Hazell makes a lovely job of it. Ren’s take on the adults in her world feels fresh and accurate.

This oldster didn’t need the ‘slang definitions’ aid at the back. Which is not to say that I am down wiv da yoof, more than said slang, most of it, isn’t as ‘now’ as the author seems to think.

One of the puffs on Amazon (‘Nudge’) says of the book “This would be a good discussion aid to issues raised in schools and colleges, but equally book clubs would find it fascinating”. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Nag your book club to read this. Or just get on and read it yourself. It’s my best read of 2018 to date.

235 pp

‘The Fool and his Whore’ by Mark Dawson

May 16, 2018

The Fool and his Whore by [Dawson, Mark]

This is a very interesting, short, entertainment about why Shakespeare might have written King Lear when and why he did.

I was intrigued by the emphasis that Dawson places on how much travelling the playwright must have done if the Shakespeare that wrote the plays was the same chap who lived in Stratford. Dawson’s solution is that he was always on the move, thought nothing of the amount of time being lost in this way (after all, life moved slower then, although it was so much shorter for most) and had lodgings strategically located for the many overnight stops he required on his way to and from London to see to his family and estates in the Midlands and his business with the King’s Men in the capital.

I have no doubt that James I was a hard taskmaster for a playwright. I have no doubt that most of the plays were dashed off with the adrenalin of an expiring deadline providing the impetus (I write in much the same way myself). I have no doubt that it was hard to knuckle down to writing a play for the Court, knowing that they would pay almost no attention while it played. Even so, to write King Lear as a festive play for Christmas seems wilfully unsuitable. King and Court apparently caught enough of the gist that it wasn’t produced again in Shakespeare’s lifetime. Not hard to see why.

What I had a bit of trouble with was the allying of King Lear with the sad story of Shakespeare’s – as far as I can ascertain – fictional friend, John Carlisle. Lear treats of unfounded suspicions about a daughter, this of well-founded suspicions about a wife. The stories just don’t seem to jog along close enough together to warrant the conclusions drawn.

Nevertheless it is great fun.

‘Spider’s Lifeline’ and ‘Turtle’s Weir’ by Lynne Cantwell

April 27, 2018

 

These are the last two short books in Lynne Cantwell’s series about gods and mortals which began with the five part Pipewoman Chronicles, continued with the three books of the Crosswind series and concluded with the four part Pipewoman Legacy. These are the final two stories of the Pipewoman Legacy series. I kept them (for so long I forgot about them!) to read as a treat. But now I’ve come across them and devoured them. And they completely lived up to expectations.

I really hope that Cantwell will come up with another series of ‘woo-woo’ books for her fans of these three series. They utilise a broad spectrum of pantheons from which she chooses deities to pair with human protagonists who may also have other abilities, such as shape-shifting, far-speaking and far-seeing. The results are luscious, sometimes explosive, always intriguing.

I am particularly fond of the Native American deities to which I’ve been introduced through these little books (be they real or from Cantwell’s fertile imagination). I am content to let the Curtis family rest in peace (they’ve certainly earned it!). But, could there more stories about White Buffalo Calf Pipewoman, Nanabush and the rest, from further back in time, when the gods were stronger, perhaps …

Turtle's Weir: Book Four of the Pipe Woman's Legacy by [Cantwell, Lynne]

Anyhow, whatever is to come, let it come: what has been written has been written. And very well written it has been. Those who are up to speed on these three series will recall that Naomi Witherspoon negotiated a truce between all the gods and all the humans which led to all kinds of benefits for mortals, including freedom from most diseases. But the truce was uneasy. Some gods would be happy to see it founder. And a trickster god is always happiest making mischief.

A disease believed banished returns. And it strikes close to home. Rogue gods are on the loose again. The Curtis clan is in disarray. So it falls to far-seeing, web-weaving Webb Curtis to work out what is going on and do something to prevent Armageddon (no, really) if he can only remember what. He is stronger than he knows, however, and is helped when he least expects it by a little cucumber-loving turtle god.

If you’ve never tried these books and you like a bit of magic realism, are into godly pantheons, or simply enjoy a good adventure then you will enjoy these books.

My only gripe with them is the shortness of the novellas of which they are composed.

Where to buy my booky-wooks

April 16, 2018

Just in case there is a reader left in the world whom I haven’t bored with this, you can find all my books on AmazonUK here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Judi-Moore/e/B0040GMLKM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1523838418&sr=1-2-ent

AmazonUS here: https://www.amazon.com/Judi-Moore/e/B0040GMLKM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1523838390&sr=1-2-ent

Feedaread (in paperback) here: https://www.feedaread.com/search/books.aspx?keywords=judi%20moore

Fishpond (in paperback) here: https://www.fishpond.co.uk/c/Books/q/Judi+Moore?rid=319979540

And when I’ve finished Smashwording them, there’ll be a whole new lorra places you can find them (and they’ll work on a lot more electronic devices).

Wonders will never cease     Little Mouse

Is death really necessary?     Ice Cold Passion: and other stories

 

My Writing Journey: Judi Moore

April 8, 2018

Kathy Sharp has been investigating local writers’ ‘writing journeys’. This week she’s investigating mine.

Kathy Sharp

JudiMooreMy guest this week is the talented Judi Moore, who tells us about life as a professional writer:

When my brother and I were clearing out my parents’ effects in the Nineties, I came across a short story I had written at primary school. It was about getting a grey cocker spaniel for my birthday. A couple of things immediately became clear to me. I got myself a dog (I’m now on my third canine) and started writing in earnest. I’ve been a professional writer since 1997. I find now that my life is completely suffused with writing, thinking about writing, thinking about the writing of others, and reading. I am lucky. Although, I do take credit for being single-minded enough to make the choices which got me here.

So, I’ve been living on bowls of steam for more than 20 years! And I’ve enjoyed every day of it. The…

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